Social enterprise should be at the vanguard of a new wave of responsible business in Scotland and become central to the "Scottish approach" to doing business, according to a new paper from nine social enterprise support bodies in Scotland.
Building a New Economy: Scotland’s Vision for Social Enterprise 2025 was published at the end of last month by organisations including Senscot, Social Enterprise Scotland, InspirAlba and Hisez.
It begins: "Scotland has a long history of pioneering new forms of business, including mutuals, cooperatives and social enterprises. These reflect a belief among the people of Scotland in a fairer, more equal society, organised for the benefit of all, where business activity is used as a means to this end and not an end in itself."
The document says the social enterprise sector needs to build a social enterprise movement, capability and markets, and build on the potential of existing human and physical assets.
Under the heading "building a movement", the organisations call for greater adoption of the existing voluntary code of practice for social enterprises, the commitment to a "national conversation" about social enterprise by Scotland’s First Minister and increased awareness of social enterprise.
The document says that building capability will require the development of specialist and generic business support, a more mature social finance market and stronger leadership in social enterprises. It says building markets requires a more recognisable consumer brand for social enterprise and greater obligation on the public sector to involve social enterprises in the co-design and testing of services. Building on potential will involve engagement with every school in Scotland, tax incentives and greater investment in skills, it says.
The document says that social enterprise should be a "broad church bound by a common code and principles". Its vision, it says, is that "social enterprise will become more visible everywhere, making a widespread and positive impact. It will become central to the ‘Scottish approach’ to doing business and form a key part of the country’s international reputation in business and politics."
Writing about the document in his weekly email bulletin, Laurence Demarco, co-founder and director of Senscot, said: "It is assumed that these ideas will continue to evolve. Some will see it as a bold document; for others it will not be bold enough. But it is starting point, we hope, for a wide-ranging and inclusive national dialogue on the role of social enterprise in a changing Scotland."